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1. Generating ideas is a useful preliminary stage when faced with an essay writing task. Start by ‘brainstorming’ the subject or the topic(s) concerned. This is often a good way to produce material for planning your answer.
2. Keep in mind that it is a preliminary stage in the essay writing process. It is designed to supply you with ideas, topics, and material for preparing the essay.
3. Take a sheet of blank paper and write in the middle of it the subject, topic(s), or the question concerned. Then, write down everything that comes into your mind which is connected with the question or the subject. Do this without editing or questioning your thoughts in any way.
4. This should be done in note form, single words, or with very brief reminders. Do not try to write out grammatically complete sentences.
5. Give your thoughts a chance to flow freely. Use one-word triggers,
abbreviations, or even symbols. Write down even trivial or vaguely associated items. They might help you to make connections with other items which are more centrally important to the subject.
6. When you have finished doing this, your task will be to make some sense of the topics or the ideas you have produced. You will need to put this material in some sort of order. This process is often known as categorizing.
7. Prior to that stage however you might first look over what you have written down. Eliminate anything which is not connected to the subject in question.
8. Be as rigorous as possible at this stage. Keep asking yourself “Are these arguments or topics directly relevant to what the question is asking for?”
© Roy Johnson 2003